If the developer is the fixer, the quality analyst is the finder. The ability to find and communicate errors in an application is a crucial role in software development.
The quality analyst (QA) seeks out not just application problems but also faults with a process that may have lead to those problems. The QA also works with a development team to address those issues, ensuring a program is debugged prior to its launch.
Some quality analysts work directly with the software being tested, rooting out bugs and determining why they’re happening and how to fix them. Other quality analysts don’t work on the software itself but rather create programs designed to perform tests on the software. In both scenarios, the quality analyst uses data to compile problem and solution reports that can be communicated to the development team.
As application development hiring grows, so does the need for experienced quality analysts. Nick Chlam, a senior recruiter for Robert Half Technology in Cincinnati, explains: “With software developers being in high demand, this has created a need for hiring QA resources to ensure the quality of the software that is going to be put into production.”
QA Salaries on the Increase in 2014
With the ongoing boom in application development, quality analyst salaries continue to grow. In the United States, the 2014 projected starting range of $60,250-$93,500 represents a 4.9 percent increase over 2013 levels. In Canada, starting salaries are projected to rise to $67,250-$94,250 in 2014, a 4.4 percent boost. You can use our Salary Calculator to find salary details specific to your city.
Quality Analyst Job Description
While day-to-day tasks of quality analysts vary based on individual business needs, the essential skills and background include:
- Excellent problem-solving skills and keen attention to detail
- Outstanding written and oral communication abilities
- A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related discipline, teamed with several years of experience in quality-analysis environment
Quality analysts are expected to:
- Develop and execute software test plans
- Identify and facilitate issue resolution with functional and technical groups
- Manage software beta test programs
- Document and communicate test results
More Than Testing
Software testing is the technical foundation for a QA, but the position goes beyond hard skills. As Chlam points out, “The key non-technical skills that win jobs and demand higher salaries are held by quality analysts who communicate well with individuals inside and outside the organization, work well in a team environment and have strong problem-solving skills.”
While the work of a software quality analyst varies from company to company, most work with a development team consisting of one or more software developers, Web developers or mobile app developers and is directed by an IT manager.
In addition to more information on the quality analyst role, you’ll find starting compensation ranges and job descriptions for more than 70 IT jobs in 150 North American cities in our 2014 Salary Guide.